Market Ghost.

An trilling African tale on jujuism...Madam Jessica was on her way to the market, so she made sure her purse was tightly tied in her wrapper.

As she made her way into the market, she frowned her face like she was ready for a fight until she got to mama Uka's shop. "Nne Jessica, welcome," Osas greeted. "Where is your mother?", Still frowning, madam Jessica asked. "She is out for two hours; what do you want to buy? I sell well enough." "I will wait," she responded. "For two hours!" He exclaimed. Madam Jessica didn't bother continuing the discussion. Osas talked too much and asked so many questions; if he were to be her very own son, she would have sewn his mouth long ago. Her children dare not talk in public because Indoors, she warned and gave instructions more than the military.

She sat down on the plastic chair that mama Uka referred to as the VIPs; immediately, her eyes met balls to balls with a man sitting across. He wasn't smiling; he only blinked; she took her eyes away but still felt he was looking directly at her; this went on until mama Uka arrived. "My very good customer," mama Uka greeted. Madam Jessica stood up to welcome her, all of a sudden her tightly tied purse fell from her wrapper, wondering how that could be possible she immediately bent down to pick it then her eyes went back to the man sitting across, he was no longer there, she was so happy. Immediately, she raised her head; something took her eyes back to the man; surprisingly, he was back again, the way he was. She frowned at mama Uka, who seemed confused at the moment.

Madam Jessica wasn't feeling comfortable anymore, so she dragged mama Uka into the shop. "Who is he?" Madam Jessica peeped at the strange man. "Who? Mama Uka was confused.

"That man na, "madam Jessica pointed at him." The one putting on blue polo? "Yes, madam Jessica frowned. "Oga solo, our new watchman," mama Uka made her way outside. "Since when? Madam Jessica threw her hands in the air, expressing disbelief. "Osas," mama Uka called. "Yes, mummy," Osas replied. "Look after my shop," she grabs madam Jessica's hand, "let's go" "To where? "Madam Jessica asked, "Let me introduce you to him, na," mama Uka replied. "Introduce who to who," madam Jessica sat down on the VIPs chair, "I want to buy one paint of beans" Mama Uka respected herself, never to push her further because madam Jessica is a woman of pride. "But, madam Jessica stood up and went closer to mama Uka, "isn't he supposed to be at the main gate?

Mama Uka signed, "hmm..." She took a deep breath," my customer, the whole thing is even funny; he was asked to stay there oo, but he was so adamant about staying here, so the committee agreed since this part of the market is where the thief patronizes well enough and also because... A young girl ran in, interrupting all. "Lock up your shops quickly; they are coming oo" Osas packed the whole goods inside in the blink of an eye as mama Uka brought them inside and locked the shop. They didn't make a sound so as not to be noticed; they were there for four good hours until they were sure that there were no more sounds from the marchers. When they came out, it looked as if there was a fifth world war, so deserted. It was like Nnuska during Biafra. Everyone began to come out one after the other. "I hope they are all gone," a woman asked. "Check maybe your children are complete," a man shouted. "Lower your voice, oga," a woman cautioned; instead, the man sighed; just then, the market returned back to their activities with quarrels. Madam Jessica's eyes searched for the man, "madam, there is a problem" Osas stood outside his mother's shop, "why is Mr solo still sitting in that position? Or is he one of them...

The huntsmen had not come into the market for the past six months, and oga solo became the watchman just three weeks ago; something was not right. "Nne Jessica," Osas called; madam Jessica turned, "why were you so curious about him?" "Nne Uka," I am leaving," she said, avoiding the question. "Your beans?" Mama Uka asked, "Beans?" Madam Jessica turned only her neck, "with all that just happened, I and my household need to forget about food and embark on sixty days and sixty nights of fasting and prayers," she expressed with her fingers. Osas was still staring at oga solo. "And you," mama Uka shouted at Osas; he got startled," what are you looking at, prepare everything, let's go home." Osas came in still wondering how oga solo didn't make a move or did he make a move; hefty men with charms and knives and guns, looking for heads and body parts, patrolled the market for four hours.

A part of him wanted to walk up to oga solo, but fear had taken over; he was even scared to mention his name; he dared not say a word about it to his mother; she didn't believe in strange things; he had not heard from his father for the past one year, it either his number was switched off, or it didn't exist. Mama Uka didn't allow any of the incidents of the day to bother her; who were the huntsmen, and what could they do? Her God is bigger than theirs; as for the case of oga solo, she felt he was shy and preferred to be alone, or he had serious family issues that were bothering him, or maybe he had suffered a stroke. Her mind flashed back; When oga solo came newly, she asked, "what is your name?" "Solomon," he said, standing like the statue of liberty, not smiling; he only blinked. "Where are you from" he was asked. "Solomon," he said his name again, still standing like the soldiers of black hat and red shirt guarding the Queen's palace. "Where do you live?" He was asked again. He still repeated Solomon like a remote-controlled doll.

Maybe he is a very secretive person; mama Uka threw away negative thoughts and took her night's rest. Osas woke up to pee, the curtains were open, and lights were switched on; when he realized that his dirty underwear was hung, visible to outsiders, most especially pretty girls, he quickly got up to close them. When he got to the window, he saw oga solo sitting down outside. "JESUS!" He exclaimed as he fainted. Osas woke up in the hospital the next morning; the doctor informed mama Uka of his consciousness. "My son is awake," she said, running into the room. "Mummy," Osas called. "My boy, what happened, what made you pass out?", She asked him a ton of questions, touching his body, making sure he was alright. Just then, she noticed that Osas was repeating the word "mummy" "Tell me," she said, bringing out his breakfast; he still kept on repeating the word "mummy" over and over again. "Tell me na," she said; he gave her a sign language indicating that the word is unable to leave his mouth, he signified for a pen and a paper, but when he picked it up to write, he couldn't write anything, he only scribbled, stunned by his sudden inability to talk and write, he broke down in tears.

Mama Uka screamed, "my enemies cannot win this battle, doctor; what happened to my son?" She began to panic; a nurse held her back, "madam, please may you leave, so we can examine him" "Leave me alone; he is my only son," she yelled; the doctor instructed the nurse to let her be, while he examined Osas. "Madam," said the doctor, "medically, your son is perfectly okay; I believe you should go otherwise for a solution. "What did you just say?", Asked mama Uka, prepared to fight the doctor. "Discharge him," said the doctor to the nurse. Mama Uka began to shed tears; she called Ukachi, her daughter who was at the University; she explained the situation and asked her to come immediately. Madam Jessica was her very good customer, as well as her closest friend, they met ten years ago, and since then, they have been best allies. She told her to come to the hospital.

A few minutes later, madam Jessica Came in with pastor Philip, the young and vibrant pastor every lady in the choir secretly admired. People wondered why GOD called such a dashing man to serve. Madam Jessica brought pastor Philip along because of the way mama Uka sounded on the phone, not very clearly, sobbing; she knew bringing him was a solution; after all, JESUS is the balm that heals. As soon as pastor Philp stepped his foot into the room, he paused. He heard a voice crying for vengeance; he also felt goosebumps all over his body. He looked at Osas, who was already tired and crying, and mama Uka who was crying and panicking, while a strong force was present in the room. Pastor Philip sat next to Osas, trying to figure out what he knew nothing about, Osas looked so innocent, like he could never hurt a fly, but could he have murdered someone that wants vengeance now? Mama Uka also? "Is he your only child?" Pastor Philip asked Mama Uka wasn't in the position to answer any delicate question. "No," madam Jessica responded," she has a daughter, Ukachi. "And where is she?", Asked pastor Philip. "She is at the University, but she will be back any moment from now." "And her husband?" Madam Jessica sighed," she told me he went on a business trip with his friends; this is a year now, and we haven't seen him

Pastor Philp paid his hands-on Osas's forehead as he began to pray, "Oh, father lord, we thank you for this precious one, "I cannot be in this body for much longer; my son has figured out who they are, in the radio, check..,". A voice whispered into pastor Philip's ear. "BLOOD OF JESUS! "Pastor Philip exclaimed. "Can we go to their house? He requested as they left the hospital. "Where are we going?" Ose asked. No reply. "You said we are going to the exporting company, and we keep going deeper into the forest; I demand to know where we are going! They reached a point where red and white ropes demarcated the road; Solomon brought out a knife and stabbed Ose. Just then, Ukachi arrived.

Madam Jessica managed to calm mama Uka down; seeing her only daughter alive, strong, and healthy, she succumbed. "Mama Ukachi," pastor Philip called. "Yes, sir," she answered. "When last did you speak to your husband? ", He asked, standing up and observing the house. "Three weeks ago," she answered. Ukachi's phone ranged, but she hung up to avoid any distraction, then her fingers mistakenly pressed the radio on. "A notorious ritual criminal is on the loose; his name is... Ukachi turned it off immediately, "sorry," she apologized. "In the radio, check," the voice pastor Philip heard while in the hospital flashed back to him. "Turn on the radio, quick," he demanded Ukachi's hand began to fidget while switching on the radio. "For adverts, call... "Hold on," said madam Jessica. They all looked at her. "When I came to buy some foodstuffs from nne Uka three days ago, I noticed something strange about the new watchman, "mama Uka got interested this time," for some reason, my purse fell off from my tightly tied wrapper when I bent down to pick it up, my eyes went straight to where oga solo was sitted, he had suddenly disappeared, but when I raised up my head, he reappeared." Can we go to your shop?" Pastor Philip asked. They all chorused yes.

When they got to the market, once again, pastor Philip began to have a strange feeling; he felt goosebumps all over his body. They arrived at mama Uka's shop; pastor Philip met eyeballs to eyeballs with oga solo. Suddenly,oga solo stood up from the chair his butt was glued to; others looked at him; all they could see was oga solo standing and staring at pastor Philip; they wondered why? To pastor Philip, when he looked at oga solo, he saw Mr ose covered in blood and crying for vengeance; he shooked his head and began to plead for the blood of Jesus; the puzzle had finally been solved, the voice he heard at the hospital, mama Uka's husband knew she wouldn't pay attention to anything strange, that's why he tried to tell her friend, but she was too scared to say anything, pastor Philip recognized Mr ose from the photos in mama Uka living room. But who could have killed him, and why did they kill him? They are obviously the same people that took away Osas's speech and senses.

Pastor Philip told mama Uka to open her shop; although she wasn't in the mood to sell anything, she still opened it anyways; she brought out chairs, including the VIPs. This time pastor Philip sat down on the VIPs; madam Jessica hung herself in a corner because she wouldn't sit on any chair if not the VIP, and also she avoided looking at oga solo. Just then, a woman came in. "Do you have white garri?" The woman asked, "Yes, how much do you want?" Ukachi answered, "One paint," she replied as she turned to look around the market; it was her first time in Papara market; her eyes met with oga solo, which was still standing; she cleaned her eyes and looked away and looked at him again. "Obi'm, papa Kachi," she called, going closer to him; madam Jessica went inside the shop; she was a very scared woman. The woman held oga solo, "my husband, what are you doing here," oga solo didn't reply. She looked around, "what have you done to him? Why is he standing like a statue?"

People began to gather around them, wondering how such a beautiful and high-class lady could be married to such a man. The woman began to cry, begging oga solo to talk to her. Everybody found it strange, except for pastor Philip, who finally spilled the beans, "mama Ukachi, honestly, over five years I have been a man of God, this is my first time of experiencing such a situation" Everybody was eager to finally hear what pastor Philip had to say because since he arrived, he had not prayed, he was either pleading the blood of Jesus or asking questions like a detective, he didn't even speak in tongues. "This situation," pastor Philip continued, "is something I want all of you to take easy, mama Uka" he called; she focused on him, "I perceived in my spirit that your husband is dead" "God forbid!" Mama Uka rebuked. Pastor Philip pointed at oga solo, "your husband's spirit is inside that body" "JESUS!", Osas exclaimed; they all looked at him as he began to speak again; mama uka was happy-sad at the moment, her son was well again, and the pastor is telling her about her husband death.

Some guys came into the market with policemen and walked straight to oga solo. "This is the man in the picture," one of the guys said. Immediately, Mr ose spirit left oga Solo's body. Oga solo regained himself again, "where am I?" He asked. "Are you Mr. Solomon ebele?" One of the policemen asked, "Yes, I am" he fearfully answered, "I am inspector William, and you are under arrest for the murder and ritual killing of one Mr ose Jackson; you have the right to remain silent or whatever you say or will be used against you in the court of law, take him away!" On hearing this mama uka screamed and fainted, Ukachi began to cry and shout, osas removed a knife to stab oga solo, but pastor Philip held him back, "vengeance is left unto God, my boy doesn't spoil your future, your father wouldn't want it, osas broke down in tears. Ose had left the premises; pastor Philip felt it. Oga solo confessed that he tricked ose into following him for a business trip so he could use him for rituals; the Dibia had asked for the head of one of his friends. He was later sentenced to death by hanging; his wife died two days after his death. When mama Uka woke up, she was advised to take her and her children to another city in order to heal.

© Chizoba Nwazuo.

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